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E-waste recycling framework

The new draft E-Waste Management Rules notified by the Ministry of Environment

E-waste recycling framework

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 May 2022 3:13 AM GMT

The new draft E-Waste Management Rules notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change propose a new legal framework for channelling E-waste to the formal sector. Leaving out the responsibilities of household consumers, and key stakeholders in the E-Waste chain, the Rules put a question mark on the effectiveness of the new regulatory framework. The proposed rules shall apply to every manufacturer, producer, of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), refurbisher and recycler involved in the manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment listed in the notified schedule, including their components, consumables, parts and spares which make the product operational. The salient features of the draft include the provision that every manufacturer, producer, refurbisher and recycler may store the e-waste for a period not exceeding 180 days and shall maintain a record of sale, transfer and storage of e-waste and make these records available for inspection. The provision that the importers of used EEE will have a 100% Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligation for the imported material after the end of life, if not re-exported is a step in the right direction and will help prevent the dumping of E-waste in the country through the import channel. The draft rules define EPR as the "responsibility of any producer of electrical or electronic equipment, for meeting recycling targets only through registered recycler of e-waste as given in the schedules of these rules to ensure environmentally sound management of such waste." The EPR framework covers manufacturers, producers, recyclers and refurbishers and mandates their registration on the centralized portal of the Central Pollution Control Board. It stipulates that these entities shall not carry out any business without registration and shall not deal with any unregistered manufacturer, producer, recycler, and refurbisher. The draft proposes raising the E-waste recycling targets to 80% of the waste generation indicated in the EPR plan. Import of electronic goods to India jumped to 1364 million dollars in January 2022 from 1180 million dollars in January 2021 registering a growth of 15.64% which justifies putting the onus of 100% EPR obligation on importers. The new rules define bulk consumer of EEE as any entity which has used at least 1000 electrical and electronic equipment listed in notified Schedule, at any point of time in the particular financial Year and including e-retailer and fixe the responsibility on these entities to ensure that e-waste generated by them shall be handed over only to a registered refurbisher or registered recyclers. The E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 included bulk consumers as well as household consumers and defined responsibilities for both types of consumers apart from producers, recyclers and other stakeholders. The existing rules say that consumers and bulk consumers of EEE shall ensure that E-waste generated by them is channelized through the collection centre or dealer of authorised producer or dismantler or recycler or the designated take-back service provider of the producer to the authorised dismantler or recycler. The Guidelines on Implementation of the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 incorporated these responsibilities for household as well as bulk consumers and, also state that the consumer should not throw e-waste in municipal bins. The omission of responsibility for the ordinary consumer in the new Rules may lead to a mounting burden on municipal bodies and aggravate the problem of dumping household e-wastes with municipal solid wastes. The new rules mandate that urban and rural local bodies shall ensure that e-waste, if found to be mixed with Municipal Solid Waste, is properly segregated, collected and channelized to registered recycler or refurbisher and e-waste about non-branded or assembled electrical and electronic equipment is collected and channelized to registered recycler or refurbisher, besides facilitating the setting up e-waste collection, segregation and disposal systems and conducting training sessions to develop capacities. Fixing responsibility and building awareness on the part of retail consumers is crucial to dispose of household e-Wastes and channel them to the registered entities for dismantling, refurbishment or recycling. The problem of Municipal solid waste management in cities like Assam and other towns in the state has already become acute with the mixing of plastic and other hazardous waste in the absence of a scientific system of door-to-door collection of segregated wastes. The slow pace of segregation of wastes at the dumping sites indicates that unhindered mixing of e-wastes will simply make it unmanageable. The hard reality that only 10% of total E-waste generated is collected for recycling in India, which is the third most E-waste generating country after the United States and China, makes it imperative for the government, and local bodies to make every individual consumer aware that disposal of E-waste in a responsible manner and extending the use of purchased products till end-of-life period is not a choice but critical to environmental protection and preventing health hazards. Defining the responsibility of household and retail consumers in the new rules of E-waste management will provide a policy push for such awareness drive.

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